The valiant work of Israel's rescue mission to Haiti has been widely covered in the Israeli press. Now it has earned praise from a surprising source: On Monday, US media broadcast items praising the assistance provided by Israel, and one reporter even sent a letter of thanks to Israeli representatives in New York.
CNN reported that Israel is the only state so far to have sent a field hospital
equipped with all that is required for surgical operations. Doctors from various missions send patients requiring surgery to Israel's makeshift hospital, particularly those whose condition is critical, the news network said.
According to the report, other field hospitals contain no more than stretcher beds and medical teams who administer first aid, and they are not prepared for complex surgery.
ABC praised the Israeli mission which had assisted a birth using a complicated procedure. The network's reporter, himself a trained doctor, came across a woman on the point of giving birth. First he tried to assist, but when he got into difficulties he remembered the Israeli field hospital, called the Israeli consulate in New York and was directed to the IDF camp.
"I understood that they were looking for the Israeli mission," said Joel Lion, Israeli consulate spokesman. "I called the military attaché in Washington to get the address of the mission… then, via Blackberry, I managed to get the coordinates and direct them there."
When they arrived at the hospital, the young woman was taken in and eight hours later a healthy baby was born.
ABC reported extensively on the story, and even sent a letter of thanks to the Israeli representative in New York. "They were very moving moments. It was amazing to be party to saving life and bringing a baby into the world. And most amazing was that it was all directed via a cell phone," said Lion. "We will pass on the expressions of thanks to the doctors and the wonderful staff at the Israeli field hospital in Haiti."
More than 100 injured patients require surgery, but are unable to get it anywhere except at the Israeli field hospital in Port-au-Prince. The doctors are unable to meet the demand, and meanwhile the patients lie in tents, administered with painkillers, and cry for help. "They'll die within 24 hours if they don't get operated on," a reporter said.
Criticism against the US mission was voiced in the ABC item. The US, it said, had sent staff for a field hospital, but they had still not received the instruments required for surgery. The equipment was supposed to arrive by the weekend, but will get there only Monday night, it seems. Only then will the US be able to set up its field hospital.
The White House said that more than 250 doctors and nurses have been sent so far to Haiti by the US Department of Health. A US ship, to be used as a floating hospital, is also on the way from Baltimore to the earthquake-torn country. The ship, with 600 doctors and nurses as well as medical equipment is due to arrive within two days.
Former US President Bill Clinton is also due to arrive Monday, to encourage rescue efforts.
Roni Sofer also contributed to this report